Chatting about Ottawa’s craft scene with Wed By Hand’s Krista Leben

Krista Leben

Krista Leben is the designer behind urbanite jewelryand a co-director of The Craft Co-Op, Ottawa’s source for all things craft in the capital. She’s also the producer of several indie craft shows around the city including this weekend’s alternative wedding show Wed By Hand.

We’ve had several Local Tourists write about arts and crafts in Ottawa. How would you describe the community?

The craft community here in Ottawa is full of really incredibly talented people. I’m super impressed with the talent I’ve discovered (and continue to discover) here in the city. One of the interesting things about the craft scene in Ottawa is that while there’s definitely a presence, the community isn’t as cohesive as it could be. So that’s why my partner Robin and I set out to create The Craft Co-Op. We wanted to bring everyone together, provide a central resource for everyone to go to and create a stronger craft presence within the city.

It seems like a pretty flourishing hobby! Why do you think crafting continues to be popular?

So many people today spend most of their day working on computers and in serious jobs (especially in a government town like Ottawa). Crafting is a way to connect back with your hands and express your creativity. Creating something by hand is also a very personal expression of oneself. I think being able to express yourself creatively and then share that for others is a really wonderful outlet, release, and experience for many people.

Tell us about the Craft Co-Op.

The Craft Co-Op is your source for all things craft in the capital. We maintain a blog which keeps crafters in the loop in regards to what type of vendor opportunities are available in Ottawa. We’re also expanding the blog’s content this year to help the public find out what craft shows are coming up. But one of the primary things that we do is produce several craft shows throughout the year including Wed By Hand and The Capital Craft Market.

Who are some cool local crafters to look out for?

  • The D.A.D. Project – Run by Emily Chen of m chen wears and her sister in Toronto, they’ve set out to do a drawing a day to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society in honor of their father who passed away in October of 2010. Their drawings are adorable and it’s for such a worthy cause!
  • Sweet Stitch – Sue makes really adorable sewn goods and recently participated in her first craft show ever. Her stuff is really sweet and she’s got a lot of talent in her fingers!
  • Purple Urchin – These ladies make the most a-mazing soaps I’ve ever tried. Friends also rave about their scrubs, lotions, and massage oils. They’re really good quality and smell so yummy!
  • Loopy4Ewe – Jay makes amazingly lovely knitted caps and other goods that are fabulous for adults, children and even tiny little babies!

You’re also a jewelery designer — how would you describe your work?

My line is your source for fresh, modern jewelry. I am all about simple, clean lines and jewelry that’s versatile and easy to wear with many outfits. Each of the pieces in my line is actually inspired by and named after a different world city.

The next big event on your roster is this weekend’s Wed By Hand. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Alternative Wedding Show Wed by Hand runs this Sunday, February 6, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Glebe Community Centre

Wed By Hand is Ottawa’s alternative wedding show. We are a handmade, eco-friendly and DIY-themed wedding show that offers couples something different than what’s available in the typical wedding industry today. We’re more than just a wedding show—we’re a wedding event: Wed By Hand includes DIY workshops, food tastings, handmade décor, a DJ spinning tunes and much more. Wed By Hand is one of the first shows of its kind in North America.

The first Wed By Hand took place in February of 2010 and was featured on /A\ Morning, CBC News, CBC Radio and in the Ottawa Citizen. While in 2010 Wed By Hand featured just vendors, we’ve expanded the event this year to include all of the fun things included above, like the workshops, DJ and tastings! We’re incredibly excited for this year’s event!

Wed By Hand is happening this Sunday February 6, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Glebe Community Centre.

Why do you think modern brides (and grooms) should hit up this event?

It’s an opportunity to discover something unique for your wedding and an opportunity to connect with people who can really help you personalize your day. We take extra special care to select vendors that brides won’t find elsewhere! We also have workshops for those brides who are into DIY (just like we are)! Also—we’ve got free tastings from the likes of Auntie Loo’s, Little Cakes, Crazy 4 Chocolate and more. Spins & Needles will be on hand DJ’ing and we’ll have a mocktail bar. What’s not to love?

At LTO, we like to celebrate the best in the city of Ottawa. Can you tell us how you would spend your perfect Ottawa day?

My perfect winter day in Ottawa would start with breakfast at Edgar (on the Hull side). I’d spend the morning walking and shopping at places like Flock and Victoire in Westboro and Wellington West, and dine at Absinthe or Allium for lunch. I’d then go skating on the canal (seriously—as an American, I think this is the coolest thing) and finish up the day with drinks and a yummy dinner at The Manx!

Thanks for chatting with us Krista!